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UNIQUE JAPANESE FOOD


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Last update April 22, 2011




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食べ物  Food Tabemono [tah-beh-moh-noh]
*: Kanji representation of the food name seldom used in modern day Japan.
 shiitake   しいたけ, 椎茸
 Pronunciation  [she--・tah・keh]
Shiitake Mushroom 

shiitake Scientifically called "Lentinula edodes", shiitake (shii: chinquapin; take: mushroom) is a brown edible mushroom growing on dead logs of Japanese oak, chestnut or chinquapin. The products are available in two types: raw (nama shiitake) or dried (hoshi shiitake). The former type is often used for nabe, chawan mushi (a cup of steamed egg curd), maki zushi (a sushi roll), sauté, and tempura, while the latter serves as a broth agent or ingredients for nimono or tsukudani extracting its condensed taste and aroma.
(Photo: Nama shiitake.)

 shirako   しらこ, 白子
 Pronunciation  [she・rah・koh]
White Fish Delicacy  or milt (fish sperm)

Shirako is literally translated as "white child(ren)" due to its white appearance and specifically refers to milt or fish sperm (e.g. cod, anglerfish or pufferfish) consumed as a delicacy. Tasting smooth and creamy, it can be briefly boiled and eaten with ponzu blended with momiji oroshi, or simply added to nabe or soups.

 shiso   しそ, 紫蘇
 Pronunciation  [she・saw]
Shiso Relish Leaf  or a shiso (Perilla frutescens) leaf

Shiso is a species of Perilla frutescens used as a relish or tsukemono agent. The leaves of ao jiso (green shiso) are specifically called oba and eaten as a condiment or tempura, while those of aka jiso (red shiso) are pickled together with umeboshi and other vegetables to add the flavor and peculiar reddish color.

 shochu   しょうちゅう, 焼酎
 Pronunciation  [show・chew]
Japanese Clear Liquor  or a distilled liquor from natural food materials

shochu Shochu refers to clear liquors distilled from fermented mashes of natural food materials, and mainly produced in Kyushu (the southern part of Japan). A variety of products are sold in the market depending on the materials from which the liquor is distilled. Mugi jochu (barley shochu) is very popular and smooth for drinking and Imo jochu (distilled from sweet potatoes), widely produced in Kagoshima prefecture, has the peculiar strong aroma and flavor. There are also kome jochu (rice-distilled), soba jochu (buckwheat), goma jochu (sesami) and kokuto jochu (brown sugar).
(Photo: Shochu with ice and water.)

 shoyu   しょうゆ, 醤油
 Pronunciation  [show・you]
Soy Sauce 

shoyu Made from soy beans and wheat grains soaked and fermented in brine, it's a basis of Japanese cuisines, producing many delicate Japanese flavors. Used for seasoning nimono dishes, soups and sauces. Tamari joyu is a dark-colored, thick shoyu with a stronger flavor, mainly used for a sashimi dip or teri yaki sauce. Koikuchi shoyu (thicker shoyu) is a typical one used more popularly in Kanto region, while usukuchi shoyu is thinner both in color and flavor, and often used to prepare noodle soup and nimono in Kansai.
(Photo: A koikuchi shoyu product.)

 shungiku   しゅんぎく, 春菊
 Pronunciation  [shuh・n・ghee・coo]
Vegetable Chrysanthemum  or edible crown daisy leaves

It refers to several crown daisy (Glebionis coronaria) species originated in the Mediterranean, whose leaves are consumed as a green vegetable. The name shungiku (shun: spring; giku: chrysanthemum) derives from its appearance similar to a chrysanthemum, and also called kikuna (literally, a chrysanthemum leaf vegetable) especially in Kansai region. Eaten as an ingredient of sukiyaki or other nabe ryori; ohitashi or tempura. The strong, refreshing aroma of shungiku is loved by many Japanese.

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